My latest contribution to alleviating that locked-down feeling is a poem (and accompanying video) that features on Hugh McMillan’s Pestilence Poems website. As reported by the BBC, Hugh has used this time of isolation to bring poets, readers, and, in this case greyhounds, together.
More Transparent Than Rain
More transparent than rain
Or at least so grey as to be invisible
In the interminable grey rain,
Accepting breathlessness and heartache,
Asthmatic eyes and blind lungs,
Too despondent to have the energy for anger
His belly half-full with gruel-grey porridge, rotten
Vegetables, and bruised burst fruits
He understands himself to be, from childhood, inferior.
He does not expect automatic doors or
Motion-sensitive lights to register his presence,
No worthwhile photograph of him exists.
He limps through damp draughty rooms which only
Spiders, moths and mould would call home, in a city
He has never recognised nor understood.
Whenever he meets someone he pictures the when
The how the aftermath of their death;
He has forgotten what it is to be spontaneous,
To be gigglingly happy or to live, but momentarily, free.
He is ceding the fight to be who he was meant to be.
His worst has bested him. Gossip misunderstood him wilfully;
No one sings his praises or witnesses the unearthly
Goodnesses he – simple, regular ex-star matter – achieves.
A poem where the poet is a compassionate deed,
A poem that’s epic, invisible, heroic – a sutra
Infused with the fallible Bodhisattva ideal – that is the kind
Of poet I would like to be, a reincarnation, perhaps
Not of Burns or Donnchadh Bàn but sincere, altruistic Miyazawa Kenji.
Kamakura Museum of Literature archives–